Protesters on Independence Square in Minsk on 20 August. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

  Belarus

  22 Debates

In Minsk, a 31-year-old demonstrator has died of head injuries inflicted during his brutal arrest. He had tried to stop a snatch squad dressed in civilian clothing from removing the red and white ribbons residents had placed on a fence in the courtyard of an apartment building in the Square of Change. He is not the first casualty of the protests against the regime, which have not subsided despite the government's harsh crackdown.

In Belarus, opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya's ultimatum to President Lukashenka has expired. She had called a nationwide strike if he did not resign by 25 October, and since he failed to comply there has been a surge in the demonstrations, which Lukashenka described as "terrorism". Commentators are at odds over who is under more pressure now.

The European Parliament's renowned Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought has gone to the opposition in Belarus in 2020. The award honours the Coordination Council, activists like Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and committed personalities like Svetlana Alexievich, the Parliament declared. Europe's press questions whether the 50,000 euros in prize money are a significant show of support.

Alexander Lukashenka visited detained representatives of the opposition in jail for discussions on Sunday. According to media reports, he tried to persuade them of the merits of his constitutional reform. Two of the participants were released the next day, but a demonstration taking place at the same time was brutally quashed. Was the meeting the start of a dialogue or a publicity stunt?

In view of the situation in Belarus and the repressive acts against prominent IT professionals, Latvia and Lithuania see the chance to attract companies that no longer feel safe there. Latvia, in particular, has low bureaucratic hurdles and, according to the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA), some companies have already committed to relocating there. Nervous anticipation can be seen in the Baltic press.

Conflict in the EU persists over sanctions against Minsk in light of the human rights violations in Belarus. While the list of those whose accounts have been blocked and who have been banned from entering the EU now comprises 40 people, Cyprus is blocking the unanimous decision necessary to put the sanctions into effect. Observers speculate about the reasons for the veto and for the lax reactions on the part of Berlin and Brussels.

Lukashenka has been sworn into office for a sixth term in an unannounced ceremony. The event was not broadcast live on television, as is usually the case, and the announcement that it had taken place only came afterwards. Was this confirmation of his status as a dictator alienated from his people or a clever move that prevented violent excesses?

After the meeting between Lukashenka and Putin in Sochi, the fate of Belarus remains uncertain. Europe's press agrees that good relations with Russia are vital for the country. At the same time, neither Lukashenka nor the opposition seem to be fitting partners for Moscow.

While the mass protests continue unabated in Belarus, the country's long-time President Alexander Lukashenka flew to Sochi on Monday to meet with Vladimir Putin. The Russian president received him warmly and agreed to give him a 1.5 billion-dollar loan. The press, however, doesn't see this as a clear profession of solidarity with his beleaguered Belarusian counterpart.

So far Russia has been reticent with respect to the protests in Belarus, but observers now see signs of growing support for Lukashenka in Moscow. Commentators question whether this is the right strategy given the broad-based mobilisation against the Belarusian leader and speculate on future relations in the region.

Contradictory reports circulated on Tuesday after the disappearance of Maria Kolesnikova, one of the leaders of the Belarusian opposition, and two of her colleagues. According to the Belarusian authorities Kolesnikova is in Ukraine. Acquaintances of the 38-year-old, however, have said that she was arrested. What consequences will this have for the opposition and for the regime in Minsk?

Aljaksandr Lukashenka openly admitted on Monday for the first time that the regime in Belarus is a "somewhat authoritarian system" and is centred around the person of the president. He suggested introducing a constitutional reform to be worked out by specialists and constitutional judges, but there was no talk of dialogue with the opposition. Observers are sceptical.

Ever since the post-election protests in Belarus began, observers have been looking to Russia with a mixture of concern and expectation. The consensus is that the Kremlin's reaction will be crucial in determining the fate of long-time President Alexander Lukashenka in Minsk.

The fate of Belarus after its presidential election remains completely open: the protests continue but President Alexander Lukashenka has given no indication that he is willing to offer the opposition concessions, much less step down. Europe's media speculate on how things could develop in the country.

After weeks of protests following the Belarusian elections, Aleksander Lukashenka asked Russia for help. Putin has now set up a reserve force for the neighbouring country. Commentators fear a Russian invasion and demand that the EU take a more decisive stand to defend the Belarusian opposition against Kremlin intervention.

The EU leaders are discussing the situation in Belarus and the mass protests rocking the country at an emergency summit today. Shortly before the video conference began, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned against foreign intervention in Belarus. What can the EU do to defuse the tensions in the country?

In Russia, the politicians and the public are at odds as to how to react to the developments in Belarus - also because Lukashenko has always been a close ally. While many express solidarity with the Belarusians, others fear alienation like in Ukraine. Commentators discuss the pros and cons of active intervention by Russia in Belarus.

The European Union is considering sanctions against Belarus over allegations of manipulation in the country's presidential election. EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell has said the election was neither free nor fair. He also criticised brutality on the part of law enforcement authorities and the mass imprisonment of demonstrators and journalists. What steps should Brussels take?

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya left Belarus for Lithuania on Wednesday. Before her departure she had tried to lodge a complaint with the election commission in Minsk against the official election results and was detained for seven hours. Commentators discuss what this means for the opposition movement in Belarus and call on Europe to adopt a clear stance.

According to official sources Viktor Lukashenko won 80.2 percent of the vote in Belarus's presidential election on the weekend. However, opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (who officially received only 9.9 percent) rejected the results. Security forces have resorted to brutal measures to break up the ensuing mass protests. Europe's press analyses the situation and discusses how the international community should react.

Presidential elections will be held in Belarus on Sunday - but this time the usual election victory for Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the country for 26 years, is more uncertain than ever. The opposition has rallied around the candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who entered the race at short notice to replace her imprisoned husband. But not all commentators are convinced that she can win.

The presidential election in Belarus is scheduled for August 9. Several opposition candidates who seem to have considerable popular support are planning to run for office. This could mean that President Lukashenko, who has been ruling the country autocratically for 26 years, may not win so easily this time. Or is even a change of regime on the cards?